Poor England hand initiative to Kiwis
England were largely responsible for their own downfall as they descended to 167 all out inside two sessions against New Zealand at the University Oval.
The tourists' false start to this three-Test series, and their double Ashes year, featured a string of regrettable shots - as well as four wickets each for Neil Wagner and debutant Bruce Martin. Only Jonathan Trott, among the frontline batsmen, and then tailenders James Anderson and Steven Finn delayed New Zealand for long.
After ducks for Kevin Pietersen and Nick Compton, and little of substance from anyone else apart from Trott, England were already in trouble on a lunchtime 81 for five. If they dared to hope Trott or Matt Prior might bail them out, they were soon very disappointed as both fell compliantly in early afternoon.
Pietersen went first ball, for the fifth time in his Test career, and the hint of a morning recovery from 18 for three in a stand of 46 between Trott and Ian Bell was as good as it ever got for England at the start of this series many had expected them to dominate.
Those predictions were in need of early scrutiny from the moment Wagner (four for 42) saw off first Alastair Cook and then Pietersen with only his second and third deliveries on his home debut.
England, put in by Brendon McCullum before bad weather prevented any play on Wednesday, were already minus Compton in the third over of a sunny morning. He paid for a hesitant push forward at Tim Southee, making contact with only the bottom of his defensive bat and unable to stop the ball rushing through to disturb off-stump.
Cook had a let-off, dropped by Martin when he clipped Trent Boult aerially to midwicket. But he could add only a single before Wagner got him, failing to keep his tame cut away from point where he was caught shoulder high. Pietersen never got bat on ball at all, undone lbw by a good inswinger from left-armer Wagner which struck him on the crease and bang in front. Bell dealt convincingly with the hat-trick ball, and Trott appeared in control at a ground he knows well from his time with Otago seven years ago.
The fourth-wicket pair had few alarms, in fact, until Bell - who had just survived a DRS procedure for lbw, when he got an inside-edge against Southee - handed the initiative right back to the Kiwis by poking a catch to cover off Wagner. Joe Root then fenced high to second slip off Boult, and after lunch Prior cut slow left-armer Martin straight into the hands of point.
Captain McCullum, it seemed, could do nothing wrong - and his decision to deploy Martin (four for 42), after the seamers had done all the damage, continued to pay off. England had already donated several of their wickets, before the previously exonerated Trott mistimed a sweep straight to short fine-leg. Then Stuart Broad produced the dopiest shot of all when he followed a slog-sweep for four by pulling a Martin long-hop straight to deep square-leg immediately after McCullum had put the man there.
Anderson and Finn reduced England's embarrassment, in the highest stand of the innings for the ninth wicket, but they would still have to bowl well themselves to get their team back on track.